Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Preakness - Recap

Preakness - Recap

Lookin At Lucky
First Dude
Jackson Bend

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.

Also ran: Yawanna Twist, Dublin, Paddy O’prado, Caracortado, Super Saver, Schoolyard Dreams, Aikenite, Pleasant Prince, Northern Giant

As Super Saver stalked First Dude’s outside shoulder for nearly 3 quarters of a mile – I thought there was some hope of seeing him win the Preakness – the announcer than said that Lookin At Lucky was “looming large” and I presumed we were about to watch the Kentucky Derby champ give perhaps the best three year old horse (Lucky) a stretch run to remember…..and then - Super Saver remembered that he was just an average horse, who got lucky in Kentucky, but this time Lucky was about to get him!

And then Super Saver, and his quest for glory, faded into the background as quickly (unfortunately) as this Triple Crown series will fade…..Lookin At Lucky avoided any unusual mishaps in the Preakness and in my opinion proved to be (what he has been since Eskendereya dropped out) the best three year old horse in the country.

The Preakness didn’t come without a few surprises - First Dude jumped out to the lead in the first turn and just didn’t have the muscle to hang on for the win. The next surprise was Yawanna Twist who made a late push for the victory from the outside – I had dismissed both of these horses from really contending, but clearly they were ready to “run” this past Saturday.

Unfortunately for Dublin he was practically “out” of the running in the Preakness with his first two steps. Poor horse must have been thinking that someone put the “rail” on the wrong side – not that he was running in the wrong direction. With those first few missteps I’m impressed that he finished as solidly as fifth.

Coming out of the final stretch Jackson Bend couldn’t find an empty lane and the delay probably cost him a 2nd place finish.

I’m not completely surprised that Super Saver finished eighth, with the exception of great muddy romp in Kentucky he had always been a slightly above average horse – I am, however, very surprised that with his eighth place finish Schoolyard Dreams and Pleasant Prince didn’t finish ahead of him.

For those of you who don’t know they are saying that Lookin At Lucky will skip the Belmont – which I personally find disappointing, but it’s been a tough few months for Lookin At Lucky and the Belmont is a grind of a race – especially when the Belmont is the fourth (and longest race) Lucky would be running in the past two months.

Preakness Video to follow:


Friday, May 14, 2010

Preakness Stakes


Saturday May 15th , 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 6:12 pm EST
Name: Preakness Stakes Grade: 1
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 3/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Aikenite                         3rd Fountain of Youth
Schoolyard Dreams       4th Wood Memorial
Pleasant Prince              2nd Florida Derby
Northern Giant              9th Arkansas Derby
Yawanna Twist              2nd Illinois Derby
Jackson Bend                12th K.Y. Derby
Lookin At Lucky           6th K.Y. Derby
Super Saver                   1st K.Y. Derby
Caracortado                  4th Santa Anita Derby
Paddy O’prado             3rd K.Y. Derby
First Dude                     5th Florida Derby
Dublin                           7th K.Y. Derby

Similar to the Kentucky Derby I’ve listed the horses and their most pertinent or most recent accomplishments above.

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (and Jockey Calvin Borel) attempt to seize the second jewel of the Triple Crown – and I for one am certainly cheering for a Triple Crown winner – however I’m having a very hard time believing Super Saver is going to get it done.

My reasoning is this – with 20 horses navigating the field of any given Kentucky Derby luck tends to play more of factor in that race than perhaps any other American horse race. With that many moving bodies in place – one momentary ill timed decision or one poor placement in the starting gate could cost the most gifted of horses their shot at glory.

In the Derby Super Saver (seen here is his lounge wear) -

(Saver) had a solid starting spot and Calvin Borel once again weaved his way to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. However as I see it better horses just suffered worst luck that day.

The Preakness however is perhaps the best test of talent for three year old horses – with a more manageable 12 contenders in this year’s field it makes this race comparable to the prep races many of these horses have been running all season.

With that in mind as I look at the contenders in this race I have Super Saver as perhaps the third or even fourth best horse in this group. So while Borel has been nothing short of magic on the first Saturday in May – I don’t know what kind of smoke and mirrors he could have up his sleeve to keep some of these other (and in my opinion) more talented horses behind him.

The horses that I don’t think have much of a chance in this race are Aikenite (#1), Northern Giant (#4), Yawanna Twist (#5), Caracortado (#9) and First Dude (#11).

The only thing these horses have going for them is rest – which shouldn’t be completely ignored – these horses will have fresher legs then the horses coming off only a two week rest from the Kentucky Derby, however there’s also a reason these horses didn’t make the 20 horse “club” of the Kentucky Derby in the first place.

The horses that I think have the potential to beat Super Saver are as follows:

Schoolyard Dreams (#2) – Disappeared in his last race, however he may be able to control the early pace of this race – and when this horse is on his game he won’t be easy to beat. Currently at 15/1 he might be worth taking a flyer on.

Pleasant Prince (#3) – Ice Box (2nd in the KY Derby) barely beat this horse in the Florida Derby, the Prince hasn’t seemed to improve since that race. He’s tough down the stretch and while I don’t think he’ll win the Preakness – I think he could manage a place in this race.

Jackson Bend (#6) – Outside of the Kentucky Derby this horse hasn’t finished worse than second place for over a year. With the luck factor reduced and the skill factor improved in the Preakness I think Jackson Bend has got to be a strong consideration for your top three –

Lookin At Lucky (#7) – he has had three very poor consecutive finishes – due to either a poor choice made by the jockey (he has a new jockey for this race) or a terrible post position (he has a gem of a post position in this one). Lookin At Lucky could be the most gifted horse in this race, the only questions as I see it are – Will his ironic string of bad luck continue, and did the last two rough outings (where he collided with horses and also the rail) affect him as a race horse? They do say 7 is a lucky number.

Trackmaster.com – likes Paddy O’prado (#10) to pull out the victory, and I think that if Dublin (#12) weren’t positioned on the outside he would certainly be more of a pre-race factor to consider.

As I see it Schoolyard Dreams, Super Saver and Yawanna Twist will make things very interesting in the first half of the race. Jackson Bend and Paddy O’Prado won’t be far behind. As they come for home – I think Lookin At Lucky will find his stride and finish ahead of Schoolyard Dreams (2nd) and Super Saver (3rd).

Closing Speed likes – 7-2-8

*Seeing how Summertime is just around the corner - here's a little something from a pleasant (and Fresh) Prince -


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kentucky Derby - Recap

Kentucky Derby - Recap

Super Saver
Ice Box
Paddy O’prado

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.

Also ran: Make Music For Me, Noble’s Promise, Lookin At Lucky, Dublin, Stately Victor, Mission Impazible, Devil May Care, American Lion, Jackson Bend, Discreetly Mine, Dean’s Kitten, Conveyance, Homeboykris, Sidney’s Candy, Line Of David, Awesome Act, Backtalk

Twenty years ago there was a popular marketing campaign based on Football / Baseball / Athletic super-star Bo Jackson – many of us remember the popular saying….Bo Knows –

After watching Calvin Borel win his third Kentucky Derby in his last four efforts – it’s crystal clear that Bo-rel knows Churchill Downs. I’m fascinated by what odds are going to be on any horse he rides next year. Trainer Todd Pletcher (who finally broke his much ballyhooed winless streak in the Kentucky Derby) was quoted as saying that Borel is statistically five lengths better on any horse at Churchill Downs than he is at any other track – and for those who don’t know, five lengths is a lot of horse people! In the Derby that’s the difference between the first place winner Super Saver and the third place show Paddy O’Prado.

Calvin Borel seems to think Super Saver will break the 32 year Triple Crown drought – however from what I’ve seen the only way any of us are going to see a Triple Crown winner this year is if we go to the movies and watch Secretariat this fall….staring Diane Lane –

Yeah – horse racing and Diane Lane – the question isn’t will I go see the movie, the question is once I’m there will I ever leave.

To wrap up my blog on the Kentucky Derby I will finish it up in a Bo knows kind of way.

* I knew when the first ¼ mile was run in 22.6 and Sidney’s Candy was in second and Line of David was in 3rd that those picks were doomed. It was just too fast a pace for this Derby’s distance. As you review the race you’ll see Sidney’s Candy simply wilt near the 1 mile marker and in a matter of seconds go from 2nd place to 12th.

* I knew that when Lookin At Lucky got body checked once – that his odds of recovery were slim – when he got bounced a second time I knew his odds of recovery went from slim to none. Still all things considered a 6th place finish isn’t bad for this horse – watch for him in the Preakness and Belmont.

* I knew that Ice Box would be trouble down the stretch if he got clear – he just didn’t get clear soon enough – from what I’m reading he’s skipping the Preakness – but he’ll be very dangerous in the Belmont.

Two horses that surprised me were Paddy O’prado and Make Music for Me – Very solid outings for two horses who seem to be peaking at the right time.

For anyone who wasn’t at the track – this Kentucky Derby had the most differing opinions I’ve seen to date. Two guys who I respect greatly for their handicapping skills had selected Conveyance (15th) and Sidney’s Candy (17th) – as I spoke to people at the track I heard everything from Dean’s Kitten to Awesome Act and I even managed to throw one lady into a bit of panic when she told me that because she was Irish she knew she had to bet that way…..when I inquired whether she meant Dublin or Paddy O’prado her eyes lit up and she sprinted for the betting booth…..apparently she had missed Paddy O’prado as representing Ireland.

In the end it was a great start to what I think will become a very interesting Triple Crown to watch – and while Closing Speed “knows” Super Saver won’t be able to win the Preakness and Belmont – as race fan I hope I’m wrong.

Kentucky Derby Video to follow: